This is my local Trader Joe’s, a store at the heart of my community. I have lived in the neighborhood since 1995 and I have shopped there literally a thousand times.
As these tragic events were unfolding, my family was engaged in the following: I was helping co-facilitate a beautiful day of healing for families with children who have loved ones who were killed. My son had just left his job across the street from this store, and my husband was at the pharmacy, also across the street, picking up a prescription.
When I learned that Melyda Corado, the store manager was killed, I felt a wave of sadness wash over me, knowing the ripples of grief and loss that will emanate outwards impacting her family, friends and community for weeks and months and years. My heart breaks for her brother, who shared that his sister was his world. Losing the person you expect to walk along side you for your whole life is something you don’t get over, you just get through.
As a person who works in transformative justice, I am always aware that an act of violence often begins well before the moment it is committed. Who was the person responsible for Melyda’s death? I did a quick google search, but there were no articles about prior arrests. I did learn that his mother struggled with addiction, and died several years ago, and he was being raised by his grandmother. I also found a person with his same name on the California State Prison inmate locator – his father, who has been incarcerated for 20 years, since he was eight years old. Both father and son committed crimes of violence against women.
In the prison, we always are careful in the work we do to distinguish between an explanation and an excuse. And yesterday, I thought about the young boys I spent the day with, who had made memory boxes and written in journals about their loved ones, surrounded by a community of care and love. And I also thought about eight year old Gene Atkins, and what he did or didn’t receive when his father was arrested, and how his mother was lost to her addiction. We can blame and incarcerate and punish, but if we want to create an end to violence, we have to think deeply about what Gene might have received as a child from our community that could have prevented this terribly tragic event.
Rebecca is dedicated to creating opportunities for transformation and healing for everyone impacted by violence, including victims and people responsible for harm. Her work in Restorative Justice is rooted in her longstanding commitment to addressing disparities that impact the health and well being of men, women, and children in communities of color.